Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.chargers.com/news/headline_detail.cfm?news_key=2523">Chargers.com</a>
<img alt="Rod Bernstine" src="http://bolttalk.com/images/rodbernstine.jpg" />
By Casey Pearce
It's become routine for former Chargers tight end Rod Bernstine. Twice a year, he finds himself torn between the team that drafted him and the team with which he wrapped up his nine-year playing career.
Bernstine spent the first six years of his NFL playing career as a member of the Chargers and finished his playing days with a three-year stint with the Broncos. Exactly where do his loyalties fall?
"I kind of consider myself just a former football player," Bernstine said. "I love the Chargers. I watch them and cheer for them regularly. People always ask me which organization I liked the best, and that's like asking which one of your children is your favorite. I do have a special place for the Chargers though because they gave me my opportunity. They provided a great environment for me and they're a great organization."
Bernstine joined the Bolts in 1987 when then Director of Football Operations Steve Ortmayer used a first-round pick to select the Texas A&M tight end. The move raised eyebrows at the time because the team already had Kellen Winslow, Eric Sievers and Pete Holohan at the position.
"I'd watched Kellen Winslow play all my life growing up," Bernstine said. "I was drafted to kind of come in and replace him. In the beginning, we didn't really get along, but now we're very good friends. It was a tough situation, but I grew a lot from it."
Two years into his pro career, the 238-pound Bernstine was moved to running back where he again found himself behind one of the greatest Chargers to play his position.
"I moved to running back where Marion Butts was in front of me," Bernstine said. "Everyone knows about what he accomplished. We were kind of in a competition there for a few years. I was able to learn a lot from the guys that I played with, and they definitely contributed to my incredible run in the NFL."
When he was on the field, Bernstine was a very productive player. In nine NFL seasons, he averaged 4.5 yards per carry and scored 22 touchdowns on the ground. But by his own admission, his body never allowed him to reach his full potential. In 1991, Bernstine was the AFC's fourth-leading rusher six weeks into the season before dislocating his shoulder.
"I remember talking to my wife and saying, â€˜Everything is going right this season except for my injury,'" Bernstine said following the injury. "I got off to a great start. The team was using me the way I thought I was going to be used as a rookie. I was feeling real good about myself, my role and the team. Then I got hurt and was like, â€˜Here we go again.'"
Regardless, Bernstine put together an impressive nine-year career in the NFL. His continual return from each injury showed the toughness that allowed him to score 24 touchdowns as a pro.
"It was definitely frustrating," Bernstine said. "I knew I had the talent to be more productive than I was, but I couldn't stay on the field."
Bernstine joined the Broncos prior to the 1993 season and enjoyed his most productive career as a pro. He led the team with 816 rushing yards and caught 44 passes for 372 yards. His head coach was current Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
The Bryan, Texas native fell in love with the Rocky Mountains and was never able to pull himself away from the Mile High City.
"After playing my last three seasons here, I just kind of stayed," Bernstine said. "I'm comfortable here. I love San Diego and I get back as much as possible, but Denver is home."
Once his football career ended in 1995, Bernstine was able to easily transition from being a professional athlete. His financial wisdom allowed him to be patient and also helped him find his next profession.
"I made a little money (in football) and was smart with it, so I didn't have to just jump right out into something," Bernstine said. "I kind of sat around and took my time. I first became an A Trade trader. I got into the stock market and made a little money doing that for four or five years. I just opted to get out of that. It's kind of like trying to find a niche, just like in football. I was a running back and then I was a tight end and then I was moved back to running back. I just had to try to find something that I was suited for."
The Chargers' 1985 media guide says Bernstine had future plans to own a McDonalds franchise. After doing all the research, he decided not to make that purchase. Roughly a year ago, Bernstine became a mortgage broker.
"I'm still learning. After you play football for a long time, you have to figure out that there's a big world out there. All I knew was sports and how to entertain people. Once I got out there, it's tough for a lot of people."
Bernstine is active in many Broncos alumni events. He's a regular at Shannon Sharpe's golf event and also plays in Mike Shanahan's annual tournament. Bernstine is quite a fan of today's NFL.
"I'm very, very close to the game," Bernstine said. "I watch every Sunday and I go to bed with SportsCenter on every night."
Just don't ask him to pick a favorite team.